Arab designers shine on Oscars 2020 red carpet

Youssra wearing Zuhair Murad at the 2020 Oscars. AFP
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Updated 10 February 2020

Arab designers shine on Oscars 2020 red carpet

DUBAI: The Oscars ceremony, now in its 92nd year, was once again held at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, California, bringing with it a drove of celebrities who descended upon the red carpet on Hollywood Boulevard wearing their finest threads to acknowledge and celebrate their peers in film and television.  The Oscars are one of the most-watched red carpets in the world, meaning the stakes are high for stars to bring their fashion A-game, and they did not disappoint.

Youssra wearing Zuhair Murad at the 2020 Oscars. AFP

Representing the region was iconic Egyptian superstar Youssra, who arrived at the ceremony on Sunday evening wearing an ivory-colored Zuhair Murad gown with caped sleeves. The Lebanese designer was also responsible for creating the sheer black, gold-embellished design worn by British television presenter Carly Steel and American model Molly Sims’ long-sleeve plunging number on the red carpet.

Sandra Oh wearing Elie Saab at the 2020 Oscars. AFP

Meanwhile, Canadian-Korean actress Sandra Oh looked to the House of Elie Saab to dress her for the occasion, choosing a statement, pale pink ruffled confection with larger-than-life, tulle shoulders that was plucked hot from the Lebanese designer’s most recent couture runway, which he showcased last month in Paris.

Lilliana Vazquez wearing Rami Kadi at the 2020 Oscars. AFP

Elsewhere on the red carpet, E! News hosts Giuliana Rancic and Lilliana Vazquez both chose designs from the region for the biggest ceremony of the year. Rancic stunned in a flaming red, feather-embellished creation with zipper detailing from Omani couture label Atelier Zuhra, while Vazquez chose a long, strapless beaded dress from Beirut-born designer Rami Kadi.

Waad Al-Khateab wearing Reem Masi at the 92nd Academy Awards. AFP

And although Waad al-Khateab’s Syrian war documentary “For Sama” did not win the golden statuette for best documentary feature, her dress from fellow Syrian designer Reem Masri, which read in Arabic “We dared to dream and we will not regret dignity,” proved that you don’t need to take home an award to be a winner.

Scarlett Johansson wearing Oscar de la Renta on the 2020 Oscars red carpet. AFP

Other memorable looks include Penelope Cruz’s archival Chanel creation from the 1995 haute couture collection and Scarlett Johansson in a transparent corseted Oscar de la Renta design.  “Black Swan” star Natalie Portman made a feminist statement in Dior’s ethereal embroidered cape with the names of female directors overlooked by the Academy— including Greta Gerwig of “Little Women”— stitched into the fabric.

Natalie Portman wears Dior at the 92nd Academy Awards. AFP

Meanwhile, the push for sustainability was apparent via chic pieces like “Bombshell” star and best supporting actress nominee Margot Robbie’s vintage Chanel spring 1994 couture gown that boasted a jewel pendant and cuff sleeves that were completely detached from the strapless navy dress. “Booksmart” star Kaitlyn Dever also used the red carpet to to promote more eco-friendly practices in the industry by donning a crimson Louis Vuitton dress made with the Red Carpet Green Dress (RCGD) sustainable standards in mind. 

Jane Fonda, 82,  took to the stage in a recycled, crimson beaded Elie Saab gown she previously wore to Cannes in 2014, to present the best film award.

Margot Robbie wearing vintage Chanel at the 2020 Oscars. AFP

Saudi designer and musician: ‘You don’t need an excuse to fail’

Updated 26 February 2020

Saudi designer and musician: ‘You don’t need an excuse to fail’

  • An accomplished pianist, composer and artist Labeed Assidmi is known for his passion and hard work

DAMMAM: Saudi graphic designer, artist, musician and entrepreneur Labeed Assidmi is known for his passion and hard work.

Assidmi is a designer and art director for corporate events at Saudi Aramco. However, it’s not all he’s known for. An accomplished pianist and composer, he has been playing piano since he was a child and is often asked to perform at events. He also owns and operates the company Pinnizer, where he sells retro and Saudi-centric lapel pins.

He wants people to know that there are different levels to what he does and how he wants to be perceived. “I want to be known as a designer first, a musician second and a pin maker last,” he said.

His passion for design began with a trip to Disneyland, where he saw how effectively a logo could be used with the iconic image of Mickey Mouse. “They were so creative with it. It was everywhere; the hats, the shirts, the buses, the tickets and the food. It was never boring. I started to think about what kind of job a person could have that would allow them to create these things. I knew that that was what I wanted to do.”

After studying graphic design in the US, he returned to Saudi Arabia to pursue a career as a designer. He said that becoming a designer can unlock plenty of paths for aspiring creatives: “Design is like an airport, there are so many directions you can go in as long as you know the principles.”

His journey in music started in the fourth grade “on the half-functional keyboard that everyone had somewhere in their house during that era.” He tinkered around with it until he managed to teach himself a few simple tunes.

He started taking the piano more seriously in college, eventually composing songs.

“I always play my own songs, I don’t really like doing covers,” he said.

He finds composing and playing music cathartic, and an effective way of stretching his creative muscles without overexerting himself. “When I’m not making art, I’m making music, and vice versa. I love the piano, it’s my escape from everything,” he said.

He also supports local musicians and wants to see more people enter the field. “I do perform sometimes at my own events, but lately I’ve been trying to give local talent a chance. I know how many of them are out there that just need someone to take a chance on them and give them their big break.”

As for Pinnizer, he said that pin collecting had started growing in popularity as a pastime in the Kingdom, but he knew that there were few places to get pins with imagery familiar to his generation. “I found a gap in the market and decided to capitalize on it by creating designs with characters and symbols that were familiar to us,” he said.

Assidmi designs all the pins himself, and works with a company in China to produce molds for them, which he then sells on his website. He has created pins with iconic images of the past such as the old logos of Saudi TV and Saudi Airlines, as well as anime characters like Grendizer and Maroko.

“When people see my pins, and their voice goes up an octave when they give that nostalgic little ‘oh my God!’, I know I’ve succeeded,” he said.

He admits that balancing the triple workload and still managing to make time for himself and family is tough, but he has ways of getting around it.

He believes that compartmentalizing different aspects of your life into “pillars” can help people see the bigger picture and avoid getting too caught up in one thing.

Assidmi hopes that he can be an inspiration to future generations of Saudis, especially people who want to enter a creative field but don’t believe in themselves.

“My purpose is to leave a legacy that inspires people, to have people see what I’ve done and realize that this is something that they can do to. That’s how I want to be remembered.”

Shop Pinnizer at or follow Assidmi on Instagram @labeed and his work at and @pinnizer